Now in its 85th season, the 2010-2011 Concerts from the Library of Congress series offers 36 concerts, three film series and a host of pre-concert lectures by scholars and 12 of the nation’s composers. From classical music to jazz, country to pop, the series offers something from everyone.
The ever-expanding American songbook is the inspiration for the upcoming concert series. Among the many explorations are George Crumb’s sweeping song cycle of “American Songbooks,” built on folk melodies, cowboy tunes, Appalachian ballads and African American spirituals; a new Songwriter’s Series collaboration with the Country Music Association; jazz improvisations on classics by George and Ira Gershwin; a Broadway cabaret evening; and a lecture on the wellsprings of blues and the American popular song by scholar and cultural critic Greil Marcus.
An eloquent spokesman for song in America, baritone Thomas Hampson is an artistic adviser to the Library of Congress and the New York Philharmonic. He performs twice at the Library this season: in an October recital marking both the centennial of Samuel Barber (1910–1981)—whose collection the Library holds—and the 150th anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s birth (1860–1911) and in an April appearance with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. At the latter event, Hampson will perform selections from Crumb’s “American Songbooks,” preceded by an intimate onstage chat with the composer.
Honoring a longstanding commitment to American creativity and strong support for American composers, the series offers a springtime new music mini-festival, March-May, with world-premiere performances of Library of Congress commissions by Sebastian Currier and Stephen Hartke.
The popular “Homegrown” series will once again be presented jointly by the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress and the Music Division. From Indiana bluegrass to Maryland marimba, the monthly noontime series (September-December) brings the music of America to the nation’s capital.
As part of the Insights Series of lectures and educational presentations, expert curators from the Library’s Music Division and noted scholars from the American Musicological Society will deliver Monday noontime lectures in the Whittall Pavilion of the Thomas Jefferson Building.
Complementing the season’s concerts are three film series: Sir Paul McCartney Filmfest (Nov. 22-Dec. 13); Celebrating the Oscars (March 9-30); and Jazz in the Spring (April 4-25). No advance reservations are required for the films, which will be shown at 7 p.m. on Monday evenings in the Library’s Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C.
Unless otherwise noted, all evening concerts will be held at 8 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium, located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. Pre-concert presentations will be at 6:15 p.m. in the Whittall Pavilion, unless otherwise noted, and these presentations do not require tickets.
Founded in 1925 by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the Library’s concert series is presented free of charge but, with the exception of the “Homegrown” performances, requires tickets for admission. Tickets are distributed by TicketMaster (www.ticketmaster.com). Although tickets may be sold out, there are often empty seats at concert time. Staff and interested patrons are encouraged to arrive by 6:30 p.m. on concert nights to wait in the standby line for no-show tickets.
For a complete schedule of the 2010-2011 concert seasons, visit the Library’s website at www.loc.gov/rr/perform/concert/.